After placing my author social media accounts on hiatus, I realized that Twitter in particular had become an integral part of my life. So I opened up a new account, placed it on private, and sent tweets essentially to myself. At first I was uneasy: isn’t the point of social media to be social? To find your tribe online through mutual interests (usually discovered via hashtags)? And as an author, you should be out there, mingling with your peers and potential readers!
My unease quickly disappeared when I logged back into my normal Twitter account. The million and a half conversations, the links, the hashtags, the memes, the gifs, all zooming across my screen, felt like noise. The wrenching, shrieking violins from the shower scene in Psycho started playing in my head. Catching tail ends of twitter convos suddenly exacerbated FOMO syndrome, and I had to stop myself before I started down the path of clicking profiles and hashtags in order to keep up with what everyone was discussing today.
I’ve grown very fond of performance studies over the past year. Identity formations and role playing based on a standard repertoire for how X people are supposed to behave fascinates me, likely because I’ve always felt out of sync with how I am supposed to perform based on the intersections of my physical appearance, my ethnicity, my gender, my socioeconomic background, my religion, my education/profession, and my age. Having been a “member” of Romancelandia for a little over ten years, I am well versed in the performance of being A Romance Author (and A Romance Reader) when Online. Despite the shift towards digital spaces as a primary place for connection, the performance remains the same: you exchange enough social currency to build a new link in your network, thereby increasing your chances for success (e.g. a community of friends to share your book covers, new releases, etc).
But what happens when you don’t perform?
What if I never tweeted, Facebooked, or Instagramed ever again?
Is social currency like actual currency: it accumulates and collects interest when you don’t touch it? Or is it like the stock market: it rises and falls based upon exterior forces and demands (aka other people)?
If an author removes themselves from the flow of conversation, do they continue to exist to the community?